Felts that celebrated faculties and universities have been particularly prized.

As if early People weren’t smoking sufficient already, tobacco corporations within the early 1900s got here up with another excuse to purchase cigarettes: tobacco felts. Beginning in about 1910 and lasting till the start of World Battle I, this premium merchandise was a short-lived rage that helped spawn an entire new technology of collectors … and people who smoke.

As we speak there’s renewed enthusiasm for these basic bits of Americana, and it is simple to see why. Let’s lower by the haze.

First, let’s hearken again to 1910. Prohibition was a decade away and America’s 92 million residents would quickly have to seek out one thing else to do. There have been 46 United States however solely three cities (New York, Chicago and Philadelphia) with greater than 1,000,000 residents. Cigarettes, first launched within the Eighteen Eighties, had not but caught on. Snuff was the tobacco type of alternative, adopted by chewing tobacco, pipes and roll-your-own. Cigarette manufacturing barely exceeded one billion models in 1910, in comparison with the unbelievable peak of some 600 billion in 1980. With America rising like a weed, tobacco corporations have been searching for methods to stimulate demand.

Tobacco felts like these came in a range of size, colors, and imprints.

Tobacco felts like these got here in a variety of measurement, colours, and imprints.

To some extent, the expansion in cigarette smoking that started round this time was attributable to a number of components. New machines have been developed that allowed for mass manufacturing of cigarettes, and the invention of security matches supplied a protected and straightforward method of igniting a smoke.

All the identical, using mass advertising and marketing strategies by tobacco corporations was pivotal in stimulating demand. The R.J. Reynolds Tobacco firm led the best way with a groundbreaking nationwide marketing campaign on behalf of Camel cigarettes. By 1913, Camel was the runaway chief within the class. One 12 months later, the outbreak of World Battle I put hundreds of thousands of American males in uniform with loads of time to kill. Cigarette smoking headed straight up.

However in 1910, all that was but to come back. Different client merchandise have been toying with premium gadgets, together with William Wrigley in his first business enterprise of promoting cleaning soap. He discovered that introducing free chewing gum together with the cleaning soap was a big spur to gross sales — a lot in order that his prospects started asking for chewing gum with out the cleaning soap.

With tobacco, premiums weren’t new, having first appeared within the late nineteenth century within the type of tags, playing cards, ribbons and associated gadgets. Each cigarettes and cigars featured premiums, generally included contained in the bundle and different occasions hooked up through envelope to the skin. Some have been redeemable for merchandise a lot in the best way that Blue Chip stamps have been marketed following World Battle II.

Most felts were woven rather than printed, unusual for premium items.

Most felts have been woven moderately than printed, uncommon for premium gadgets.

As for tobacco felts — generally known as silks or flannels — these got here in a wide range of sizes and themes. Among the many hottest have been flags of the world, collected by each people who smoke and non-smokers and sometimes utilized in a wide range of stitching crafts. One other sought-after grouping have been faculty and college banners that includes lots of the U.S.’ most august establishments. Linear paintings and colourful prints have been additionally launched, together with some unlucky renderings that included swastikas previous to the Nazis’ perversion of the shape.

All these and extra can nonetheless be discovered right this moment, usually at costs that hardly exceed a cup of fancy espresso. The array is limitless and the enchantment timeless. It is an important type of gathering for younger and outdated alike.

Mike Rivkin and his spouse, Linda, are longtime residents of Rancho Mirage. For a few years, he was an award-winning catalogue writer and has authored seven books, together with numerous articles. Now, he is the proprietor of Vintage Galleries of Palm Springs. His antiques column seems Saturdays in The Desert Solar. Need to ship Mike a query about antiques? Drop him a line at [email protected]

This text initially appeared on Palm Springs Desert Solar: Antiques: Tobacco felts have been a preferred spif for early people who smoke